ATLANTA (AP) — Cristian Javier spun after Dansby Swanson drove a 95 mph fastball with an 0-2 count to right field and watched the opposite-field drive sail over Michael Brantley and an inch or two over the top of the 16-foot brick wall, landing 359 feet away.
Pitching coach Brent Strom went to the mound and pinch-hitter Jorge Soler walked to the plate. Javier fell behind 2-1, and Soler drove a belt-high slider to left. Javier turned the other way and watched Yordan Alvarez crash into the 6-foot chain link fence armpit first as the ball whizzed just over for a go-ahead run.
Javier had been perfect this postseason, getting 27 outs without allowing a run. Less than 6 inches was the difference for him and the Astros in a 3-2 defeat Saturday night that dropped Houston into a 3-1 World Series deficit against the Atlanta Braves.
A 24-year-old Dominican right-hander in his second major league season, Javier made nine starts and 27 relief appearances during 2021, going 4-1 with a 3.55 ERA.
He had exceled in the postseason, with a 56-pitch 2 2/3 inning-outing against the Chicago White Sox in Game 3 of the Division Series, seven strikeouts over five innings in a pair of Championship Series wins over Boston and a four-out hold in the Game 2 World Series win over the Braves.
Javier became Houston's fourth reliever when he followed Phil Maton to start the seventh, protecting a 2-1 lead. He struck out Adam Duvall leading off but wound up allowing the third set of consecutive tying and go-ahead home runs in Series history.
“He’s really good," Swanson said. “This postseason he’s been unbelievable, and he’s obviously got really great stuff. In that moment, I think the compete factor is what went through the roof.”
The Yankees' Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig accomplished the feat off the St. Louis Cardinals' Bill Sherdel in Game 4 of 1928, and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager did it off the Yankees' Ron Guidry in Game 5 of 1981.
Javier had allowed just four hits this postseason coming in, striking out 15 and walking five.
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Ronald Blum, The Associated Press